About a year and one-half ago I noted a terrible story out of Little Falls, MN. Two teens broke into a home there and were shot and killed by the homeowner. The homeowner was arrested and charged with murder because he admitted to the police that he executed them both after first wounding them. The boy was killed first and his female cousin, his accomplice, second. The homeowner's murder trial has commenced and the StarTribune describes an audio recording of the events that was played to the jury yesterday:
The Morrison County jury heard glass break, movement, then two shots as Brady groaned “Oh.” Smith responded with another gunshot, saying, “you’re dead.”
Almost immediately after Brady was shot, rustling of the tarp was heard, then a dragging sound, then heavy breathing. Smith had moved Brady’s body to a workshop in his basement to keep blood from staining the basement carpet, he later told authorities.
The audio continued with the sound of a gun reloading, then more deep breaths and the sound of footsteps — first getting fainter and then becoming louder again. A few minutes later, in a quiet, low voice, a female mumbled “Nick.”
Soon, there was another booming gunshot and the sound of Kifer falling down the stairs. Smith quickly said, “Oh, sorry about that.”
“Oh, my god!,” Kifer said, and screamed.
“You’re dying,” Smith responded amid more gunshots. “Bitch.”
After more heavy breathing and a dragging sound, Smith said “bitch” once more. Jurors heard more movement, and the crack of a gun.
That's sickening. It's also not self defense, it's murder. I'll be shocked if the defense attorney can come up with an argument that excuses the homeowner's conduct. Perhaps they are hoping for a juror or two to side with the homeowner and hang the jury. I know that at least some people think the kids got what they deserved for breaking into the house.
My take is those two kids should be held up as an example of the possible consequences when you do stupid shit. If I had kids I'd show them this and tell them "Life already has enough opportunities for trouble to come crashing in suddenly. This is the kind crap that can easily happen when you go looking for it."
And those kids were looking for trouble. I reject the notion from their friends and family that "they were good kids." No they weren't. Good kids don't break into other people's homes. Period.
But that doesn't justify murder, and if what's described above isn't murder in the second degree then I don't know what is.
As a homeowner and a gun owner I've thought a lot about my legal and moral responsibilities if I had to confront a burglar. If he's outside my home or in my garage I'm going to call the police, because if all he is threatening is property the police can handle it. besides, in my little suburb the police response to something like that would be very, very fast.
If he's in my home, that's a different story. I would have no qualms about shooting him unless I can see he's not a threat. In the case of the homeowner who is on trial, at a minimum it's clear he fired the fatal shots after the teens were no longer a threat. In fact, I think a case can be made that he had no justification for firing the first shots either.
Two kids dead and one man almost certain to spend the rest of his life behind bars. What a waste.